ALBERT JAVANGWE v VORTIGEN IVESTMENTS PRIVATE LIMITED T/A CPL (SC 49/20)

“There was, therefore, no need for the re-registration of the respondent’s code. The respondent correctly used its code in disciplining the appellant. The appellant was therefore charged and dismissed in terms of the correct code of conduct.”

Category: Re-registration of a code of conduct

Introduction

In this summary, I point out one important principle that was highlighted by the SC in this case. The long and short of it is that there is no need for a company to reregister its code of conduct were an NEC code is repealed and a new one is promulgated provided the new NEC Code ratifies the already registered company codes.

Facts

The appellate employee was dismissed for unsatisfactory performance. The code of conduct used was the respondents. On appeal, the dismissal was also confirmed. He applied for review at the LC which review was dismissed. The basis of the review was that the code of conduct that had been used was not ratified by the NEC in terms of s101 of the LA. The background was that in February 2009 the NEC had registered the employer’s code. The registration was necessitated by the fact that the NEC had come up with its code. In 2012 the NEC came up with a new code. The appellant employees’ argument was that the employer had to make sure that code was ratified once again.

The Courts Reasoning

Was the code approved?

The SC made an important finding that the new code published by the NEC provided that there was no need for old codes to be reregistered. It took into consideration the old statutory interpretation dogma which posits that the ordinary grammatical meaning of words in a statute should be used unless if that would lead to absurdity. In this regard the SC remarked:

“The legislature in enacting s 4.1 of S.I. 175/12 which expressly provides that it was not to be used for employees who already had registered company codes must be presumed to have applied its mind to the possible effects of requiring re-registration of company codes which were already in existence. The grammatical construction of s 4.1 of S.I. 175/12 clearly proves that the legislature intended to establish a blanket approval of all pre-existing codes to avoid an absurd scenario of re-registration of pre-existing codes it had previously approved. Section 4.1 cannot, therefore, be said to be inconsistent with the Act.”

The resubmission of the employer’s code under the circumstances was deemed to be inconsistent with the intention of the crafters of the code of conduct.

The SC had no option but to dismiss the appeal.

Own Comment

This decision of the SC is spot on. There was no need to register the code where the legislature was clear on what parties were expected to do.

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